Most workout classes out there focus on the bigger muscle groups: legs, arms, glutes, abs, back. Pilates does that too – oh, you’ll feel it in class.
But here at RTR, we know that the body is more than just the major muscle groups. Our body is an interconnected unit of bones, ligaments, muscle, and tissue. That’s why we often start our classes by activating our foundation of movement with footwork.
In our daily lives, we often overlook the feet as a muscle group to activate or strengthen. We spend our days with our feet strapped down and tied into shoes, which are great for protection and style. But all that time in shoes turns your complex system of bones and muscle into one movement sector and can under-develop parts of your feet, which can lead to issues that affect the rest of the body.
In every RTR class, we work without shoes. This one action immediately wakes the foot and its different focus points, from your heel and arch to the ball of your feet and toes. We also often begin class with footwork to further support this foundation. Our exercises help build strength, mobilize the ankle, and support the knee and hips.
Why do issues in the feet affect the rest of the body?
When we develop imbalances in our feet, that energy travels up the leg and into the spine off-balance; we’re placing a disproportionate amount of stress on one area, which then overworks that section and under-develops others.
This imbalance can lead to overpronation or underpronation (supination), which are both caused by underdeveloped muscle groups.
Pronation is just the natural movement of our feet when we walk, run, and go about our daily lives. When your foot is overpronated, your ankle moves too far downward and inward when you step. This can lead to excess rotation of the tibia, which increases your risk of shin splints and knee pain.
On the other hand, when you experience underpronation, often called supination, your foot rolls outward as you walk, which places extra stress on the outside of your foot and your smaller toes. This motion can increase the risk of a number of issues, including:
- Ankle injuries,
- Plantar fasciitis in your feet,
- Achilles tendonitis in your ankles,
- And pain in your thighs and hips from Iliotibial band syndrome.
We use our entire skeletal and muscular structure of our bodies to create balance, and it starts with our feet. When you don’t take care of your feet, your body will let you know.
Many classes at RTR begin with footwork to support and activate the various muscle groups in our feet. These exercises alleviate stress, build strength, and help mobilize the ankle, knee, and hips, which in turn improves flexibility, balance, and the ability of the ankle joints to absorb stress.
Through our classes, we wake up the foot so it becomes a balance center, rather than a source of imbalance.
Beyond long-term injury prevention, pilates also provides immediate benefits you can feel. During footwork, many of our clients experience an immediate release in the feet, which then activates the calf and shin muscles, quads, and leg extensors. This focus provides increased mobility, as well as a relaxing sensation in areas that are often overstressed.
Footwork also represents a valuable mental benefit for our classes. By focusing on control at the beginning of class, footwork also functions as a centering exercises that brings our clients into a deeper awareness of their control over their body.
This awareness helps Pilates practitioners build a greater understanding of their body throughout their daily lives, supporting their overall health and wellbeing.
See the results for yourself
Join our community at RTR Pilates and see the results of footwork (and a fantastic whole-body workout) for yourself. Get your first month of unlimited classes for just $129!